MEDFORD New Jersey's appeals court has upheld a 2012 Superior Court ruling that dismissed developer Stephen D. Samost's $60 million lawsuit against Medford Township.
Samost and one of his firms, Medford Village East Associates, sought the compensation on the ground that the township was obliged to make good on a failed arrangement to redevelop a 280-acre Samost-owned site off Route 70 near Eayrestown Road.
First proposed in 1996, the project envisioned a shopping center to be called Medford Crossings and a residential component, Medford Village East, that ultimately called for 750 single-family homes and apartments.
In 2005 the township agreed to designate the site an area in need of redevelopment, and named two firms as its redevelopers: one for the commercial project, another for residential.
Under the agreement, the two redevelopers were to pay Medford $60 million for the site, and town was to then turn that money over to Medford Village East.
Two years later, Freeco, developer of the commercial project, declared bankruptcy and sought liquidation. With the project stalled, Samost and his firm sued Medford, alleging it was legally required to make good on Freeco's obligation.
The township spent more than $2 million defending itself. In February 2012, Superior Court Judge Michael J. Haas rejected Samost's argument.
Samost and Medford Village East appealed. In its March 24, 2014, the Appellate Division not only upheld Haas' decision, but praised his "extensive, well-reasoned written opinion" of 103 pages.
Samost and his attorney could not be immediately reached for comment.
Township Solicitor Christopher Norman, who represented Medford in its defense against the appeal, said Friday that Samost's attorneys had asked New Jersey's Supreme Court to hear an appeal.
Norman said he would be surprised if the Supreme Court did so, but said the town "will continue to vigorously defend itself."
"But I would prefer," he said, "that Mr. Samost now pursue development of the site instead of litigating."